As teachers we can spend a lot of our time dealing with behaviour that falls short of our expectations, and we can actually fall out of the habit of giving praise!
Here are 4 tips to help you make praise a key part of your classroom again:
Praise at the door
1. Start with praise at the door. In many circles, this is a big deal now but plenty of the best teachers have always done this. Notice your learners as they come to your class and greet them with positive praise: “Good morning James, well done for last week in class. I was really impressed with your efforts”; “Good afternoon Ania. Congratulations on the award you received in English last term!”. Even praise for a new haircut a student is sporting will get your lesson off to a positive start and reaffirm the child’s hopes that your room is a positive space.
Praise from elsewhere
2. Find opportunities to praise cross-curricular work! Ask colleagues how a student (possibly one not working so well for you) is doing in their class, then use this as an opportunity to praise them in yours: “Miss James told me your effort was amazing in PE this week Amie. I hope you bring that energy to my lesson!”
Effort, not always success
3. Praise when they try, not just when they succeed! Try to notice when learners are giving something a go. Make a point of praising this to encourage them and motivate others: “Casey, I love the effort you’re putting into the work this morning, this is brilliant, keep it up!”
4. Create a praise board! Make space on one of your classroom walls for a praise board. Populate the praise board with praise that you want to make highly visible to your learners. It might be highest score in a test, most improved study, or someone who’s shown increased confidence in attempting challenging tasks, or a kindness award for learners who always support one another. Every once in a while allow students to nominate other students to go on your praise board too!
Let me know how you get on with these ideas in your classroom!